Various: Rogue's Gallery (Anti/Shock)

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Loudon Wainwright III: Good Ship Venus
Various: Rogue's Gallery (Anti/Shock)

Believe it or not, when I was a kid my dad -- who had spent time at sea and was never happier than when on a ship -- not only played my Beatles and his Louis Armstrong albums with equal enjoyment, but would often bang on a Burl Ives album of sea shanties.

My younger sister and I grew up to the sound of him singing, "My father was the keeper of the Edison Light, he slept with a mermaid one fine night . . ."

So . . .

This collection of sea shanties is co-produced by those well known blackguards Johnny Depp and director of Pirates of the Caribbean II Gore Verbinski, and is overseen by Hal Wilner who has done a similar job on a number of similar projects (notably the Disney and Thelonious Monk tributes).

And it boasts a star-studded line-up of swarthy shipmates: Nick Cave, Bryan Ferry (?), folkie Martin Carthy, Ed Harcourt, Stan Ridgway, Sting, Jolie Holland, Lou Reed finding his sea legs, Lucinda Williams, Bono, Rufus Wainwright, his dad Loudon (who does the notorious Good Ship Venus), and many many more over two discs of salty tales, traditional songs, fishermen's blues, seamen's laments and so on.

On paper that sounds awful and you could be a little cynical about such a collision of celebrities.

But there are some wonderful performances and songs here, among them One Spring Morning by Akron/Family (never heard of them); Martin Carthy on Hog-Eye Man, Ed Harcourt with Farewell Nancy . . .

In fact so many that this is much more interesting and worthy than you might expect.

Dark stuff too.

My dad -- and Burl Ives -- wouldn't have liked it much however.

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Gavin Hancock - Dec 13, 2011

Sting and Bono doing sea shanties? "Ohhhh narrrrrr"

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